THE LATEST FUEL CELL NEWS IN JAPAN, SEPTEMBER 2003

Arranged by T. HOMMA
1. Government Policy and Activity
2. Policy and Activity in Local Public Body
3. Development and Commercialization of SOFC
4. PEFC Development
5. The Front of FCV
6. FC Used for Transportable Power Source without Car
7. Development of Home Use FC and Business Expansion
8. Development of Micro FC and Commercialization Plan
9. Hydrogen Production, Storage and Supply Technology
10. Safe Hydrogen Utilizaing Technology

1. Government Policy and Activity
(1) Ministry of The Environment
  Ministry of the Environment made a policy on August 6, 2003 that they designates local governments or public bodies as model districts, who are tackling activation of economy through environmental protection, and subsidizes the businesses from 2004. FC is included in the planned model businesses, making use of byproduct hydrogen gas generated from chemical factory. Total budget for the subsidy is 500 million yen for 3 years and about 10 sites are to be selected.
( Yomiuri Shimbun August 6, 2003 )
  Ministry of the Environment made a policy that they will subsidize FC or wind power installed at home from 2004, which does not exhaust global warming gas. In case plural home procure the power generation facility, the national and local government subsidize 2/3 of the installation cost to local committee consisted of local government and others. And ME applied the budget of 300 million yen in 2004.
( Asahi Shimbun August 17, 2003 )

(2) Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Agency of Natural Resources and Energy
  gCommittee on Direction of Fuel and Technology for Next Generation Low Emission Vehicleh (Chairman : Hisashi Ishitani, Professor of Keio University) under control of METI, made a report indicating the subjects of the committee and road map is indicated, to construct new society utilizing hydrogen as fuel of FCV. And it is insisted that popularization of clean fuels such as GTL(Gas To Liquid) or CNG(Compressed Natural Gas) are effective.
( Nihon Kogyo Shimbun August 14, 2003, The Daily Automotive News August 15, 2003 )
  ANRE made a policy that they subsidize distributed powers such as gas engine cogeneration system or FC from 2004. The purpose is to establish stable energy supply by supporting popularization of the power sources which the loads are light for grid.
( Denki Shimbun August 15, 2003 )
  METI made a decision that all electric power to be used for government pavilion in Japan International Exposition to be held in 2005 is supplied by FC using waste as fuel. Anaerobic digester reactor for garbage, high temperature gasification of pet(plastics) bottle and others to generate hydrogen will be developed under cooperation of Aichi Prefecture, Toyota Motor Corporation, Chubu Electric Power Co., Inc. and Nagoya University. And FC of 2000 kW will be laid out in area of government pavilion and power will be supplied.
( Tokyo Shimbun, Chunichi Shimbun August 28, 2003 )
  Roughly estimated budget for ANRE in 2004 has been arranged on August 28, 2003. Budget related to fuel cell and hydrogen energy is increased from 30.8 billion yen in 2003 to 34.1 billion yen in 2004. Budget for Base Technology Development Project producing and utilizing hydrogen under safe and cheap cost conditions, is increased 1.8 billion yen and became 6.6 billion yen and budget for system technology development toward realization of SOFC, is newly assigned 1.7 billion yen as detail of 34.1 billion yen in total.
( Nihon Kogyo Shimbun, The Chemical Daily August 29, 2003 )

(3) New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization
  NEDO will raise companies who want to develop portable FC to apply them to cell phone or PDA( Personal Digital Assistance), in order to subsidize based on Subsidy System for Development of Portable FC newly established. Subsidy rate is 1/2 and the period is 3 years from 2003 and they prepared 200 million yen for this year.
( Nihon Kogyo Shimbun August 5, 2003 )

 
2. Policy and Activity in Local Public Body
(1) Tokyo Metropolitan Government
  Tokyo starts operation of FC bus from August 28, 2003. The number of bus is one and the root is from Tokyo station (Yaesu-guchi) to Tokyo Teleport station (East 16) and the operation is 3-4 shuttles for the root. 2 units of 90 kW PEMFC and 4 of secondary batteries are loaded on the bus and the maximum capacity is for 61 customers. Running capability is 250 km by one hydrogen charge.
( Mainichi Shimbun August 23, 2003, Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun August 25, 2003, Yomiuri Shimbun, Asahi Shimbun, Mainoichi Shimbun, Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Nihon Kogyo Shimbun August 28, 2003 )

(2) Hukuoka City
  Hukuoka started new biomass business to produce methane gas by adding virus to ferment sea weed, under cooperation with company and university. This methane can use as fuel of FC. The sea weed is sea lettuce called Aosa in Japanese and it becomes a cause of pollution of sea water in Hakata Bay. They confirmed by experiment that methane gas of 30 m3 can be produced from Aosa of 4 tons.
( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun August 28, 2003 )

 
3. Development and Commercialization of SOFC
(1) NGK Insulators
  NGK Insulators, Ltd. has developed SOFC which can operate with high power density even at low temperature between 650 ` 750Ž. The cell developed by NGK is circular plate with 12cm diameter and attained power density of 0.6W/cm2ivoltage 0.7Vjat 650Ž and 1.6W/cm2 at 750Ž.
( Dennki Shimbun August 11, 2003 )

(2) Clean Coal Power Lab.
  Clean Coal Power Laboratory which have been invested by ten electric power companies leaded by TEPCO, is proceeding real detail design of pre-commercial IGCC(Integrated coal Gasification Combined Cycle) to be installed at Nakoso Power Station of Joban Joint Power Co., Ltd. (Iwaki City of Fukushima Prefecture) in October 2004. They aim to attain power generation efficiency of 48% by combining gas turbine and steam turbine using coal gasified gas for the first time. Then after adding SOFC, 55% power efficiency is expected by triple power generation of SOFC, gas turbine and steam turbine.
( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun August 20, 2003 )

(3) Nippon Steel CorporationESumitomo Corporation
  Nippon Steel Corporation will jointly develop 10kW class small size power generation system with Sumitomo, using SOFC stack developed by Acumentrics in US who is invested by Sumitomo Corporation, and will put on market until spring in 2005. They intend to raise it as major engineering business by extending the unit size up to 100kW class large system available for electric power sources for factory and district heating and cooling. They installed a SOFC of Acumentrics at Yawata Works and started demonstration operation at the end of July 2003 using LNG fuel. They will also fix specification suitable for popular fuels in Japan after testing town gas, kerosene and others. Regarding commercialization, at market entry stage of 10kW module enough for a convenience store, they will set the price at \3 million/kW, and cultivate market of small power generation unit for commercial facilities, apartment houses and hospitals, cooperating with Sumitomo Corporation.
( Nihon Keizai Shimbun August 29, 2003 )

 
4. PEFC Development
  Takeo Yamaguchi, Associate Professor at School of Engineering, the University of Tokyo, established calculation model useful for material design of PEMFC. For example, MEA is made by mixing carbon loaded fine particle of platinum catalysts with polymer, and then coating. The mixing ratio has been made by trial and error. Aim of the calculation model is to control proton conductivity theoretically depending on parameters such as size of carbon, quantity of platinum, thickness of polymer and others. In case of DMFC, compatibility for control of methanol cross-over and high proton conductivity is so difficult that the optimum selection of the condition is one of the important subjects. The design corresponding to various application is also expected by utilizing this calculation model.
( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun August 6, 2003 )

 
5. The Front of FCV
(1) Toyota
  Toyota Motor Corporation will start cooperative research on low emission technology with Chinese governmental organization gChina Automotive Technology & Research Centerh. Main themes are following two; 1) Research on demonstration test and policy research to introduce low emission technologies including hybrid technology, 2) Research on alternative energy replacing petroleum for automobile such as FCV and CNG car. They signed formally on July 31, 2003.
( Nihon Keizai Shimbun August 6, 2003 )
  Toyota will deliver total 6 FCHV, each one for Aichi government, Nagoya city, Toho Gas Co., Ltd., Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd., Nippon Oil Corporation and Iwatani International Corporation respectively. They will also deliver FC bus operated by Tokyo Metropolitan Government for commercial operation from August 28, 2003. The delivery ceremony will be held on August 27.
( Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun August 15, 2003, Yomiuri Shimbun, Nihon Kogyo Shimbun August 20, 2003, Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun August 21, 2003 )
  On August 22, Toyota disclosed the plan to deliver 5 more FCHV within this year, so sales number of FCHV will be 17 in total. One of the new 5 FCHV is to central government and remaining four are to universities and research organizations in US.
( Chunichi Shimbun August 23, 2003, Nihon Kogyo Shimbun August 25, 2003 )

(2) China
  Tongji University (Shanghai) in China succeeded to develop FCV gChao Yue 1h in cooperation with Shanghai Automotive Co., Ltd. and others. Hydrogen cylinder is installed and battery is used with FC. The maximum driving range is 210km. At the running test, it could be attained 80 km/h within 14 seconds in acceleration test, and the maximum speed reached to 110km/h. The body is based on the chassis of a Santana 2000 of Shanghai Automotive, where hydrogen cylinder, control unit, cooling water box and others are installed in the rear.
( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun August 8, 2003 )

(3) Mitsubishi Motors and DC
  Mitsubishi Motors Corporation and Daimler Chrysler (DC) will jointly develop FCV and perform road tests. Mitsubishi Motors will install the FC system, developed by DC and Ford Motor Company and others, into Mitsubishi vehicle and also extensively back up road tests to be carried out by DC in Japan. It is hot and humid and traffic jam occurs many times in Japan, therefore load on electric system will be heavy. DC and Mitsubishi will jointly verify if FCV can run without any trouble under such severe running environment.
( The Daily Automotive News August 9, 2003 )

(4) Dynax
  Dynax (Chitose), domestic largest clutch plate fabricator for automatic car, developed separator for PEMFC in cooperation with Graduate School of Engineering, Tohoku University. Dynax aims to make pilot plant by 2005, and deliver high quality separators to automobile manufacturers with lower cost than competitors. Target price of a separator made of thin plate (A4 size) is considered to be several hundred yen. Dynax forecasts that market of clutch plate will decrease rapidly because gearbox will become useless in FCV age. Therefore, development of separator is a survival strategy as car components fabricators.
( Hokkaido Shimbun August 24, 2003 )

 
6. FC Used for Transportable Power Source without Car
  The Japan Marine Science and Technology Center (JAMSTEC) confirmed on August 11, 2003 that propeller of gUrashimah, deep sea cruising vehicle, can be operated normally although they conducted driving test of propeller driven by 4 kW PEMFC loaded on the vehicle at peer of the center. Research team of the center has made research from 15 years ago and developed unique PEMFC system for deep sea vehicle, different from PEMFC for car application, which hydrogen is stored at hydrogen storing alloy and produced water is used internally without exhaust. The center intends to realize within 2005 by repeated test operation. Urashima is deep sea cruising autonomous vehicle, 10 m in length, 10 tons of weight in atmosphere. Autonomous cruising is possible by computer program installed at control room on mother ship. They succeeded 3,518 m deep sea cruising in 2001 and cruising of 132.5 km in 2002 by lithium battery. They planned to change prime mover to FC in order to extend cruising range.
( Asahi Shimbun, Sankei Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, Tokyo Shimbun August 12, 2003 )
  JAMSTEC announced on August 20, 2003 that they succeeded cruising at depth of 300 m and the range is 2.5 km by test cruising carried out in Suruga Bay, which is loaded sealed type PEMFC made by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd.
( Yomiuri Shimbun, Mainichi Shimbun, Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun August 21 and 25, 2003 )

 
7. Development of Home Use FC and Business Expansion
(1) DESS (Decentralized Energy System·Software) Consortium
  27 companies from FC makers and construction companies have established a cartel in order to tie up home use FCs with their own power supply lines and develop the way how to accommodate the surplus electricity mutually. The cartel is named DESS consortium and participants are Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., Sanyo Electric Co., Ltd., Taisei Corporation, Kajima Corporation, Sekisui Chemical Co., Ltd., Idemitsu Kosan Co., Ltd., Marubeni Corporation and others. A secretariat is done by Japan Research Institute. The cartel considered that the operation of some FCs in a net work is more effective and easier to spread FCs than an independent operation by individual home and investigate how to construct power networks for a year, and then aims at commercialization. The first target would be the introduction to the apartment house. If several networks were established, they would be expanded to peripheral area. The cartel expects that high reliable power network system can be constructed without electric utility companies, if it became realistic.
( Asahi Shimbun August 2, 2003, Denki Shimbun August 28, 2003 )

(2) Toshiba IFC
  Toshiba announced their decision that Toshiba IFC will develop 1 kW output home use cogeneration systems in Japan, among the FCs developing with UT(United Technologies) in USA. On the other hand, UT will develop the large scale FC for car and bus and also FCs for special uses including space application.
( Nihon Keizai Shimbun August 3, 2003 )

(3) Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd.
  Tokyo Gas announced that they have begun to develop home use PEMFC cogeneration systems in cooperation with Ebara Ballard group and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. which are scheduled to put on the market from 2004. The target specification and performance are following; rated power output is 1 kW, power efficiency is higher than 31 % (HHV), total efficiency is higher than 70 % (HHV), and operation mode is supposed DSS(Daily Start and Stop). The FC will put on sale in the forth quarter of 2004 fiscal year and then next generation unit will be developed under cooperation with more companies including other companies besides the above mentioned 2 companies after 2005.
( Denki Shimbun August 4, 2003 )
  In order to improve tolerance of reformer for home use FC, Tokyo Gas is to apply nano technology on them and aim to extend their tolerance to 40,000 hours by 2004, it is 8 times longer than that of the existing one. The improving target is catalyst and they investigate structure scattered on spherical ceramics of 2`3mm diameter with metal particles of ruthenium and/or nickel from a few nanometers to hundreds nanometers diameters. They intend to improve the tolerance with selection of combination of metals that are hard to oxidize and optimization of the operating conditions.
( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun August 18, 2003 )

(4) Suzuyo Shoji Corporation
Suzuyo Shoji (Shizuoka city) started a test operation of home use 1 kW PEMFC cogeneration system at Suzuyo Irie Dormitory in Shizuoka city on August 25. Fuel is LPG and the manufacturer is Nippon Oil Corporation. The operation will be done for a year under the simulated conditions of a ordinary home and verify effects of energy saving and others. They aim to commercialize it by 2005.
( Shizuoka Shimbun August 26, 2003, Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun August 28, 2003 )

(5) Hitachi
  Hitachi, Ltd. has submitted its first unit of 1 kW home use PEMFC system to verification project led by NEF that has been fabricated with partial oxidation reformer developed by its own technology. The conventional reformer, externally heated method, requires a hour or two for start up but the reforming method with internal combustion and steam reforming can be started within 15 to 30 minutes with downsizing of its volume (20 litter). They also have developed the electrolyte and the separator, including new materials, which can lead to reduce the cost greatly. The metal separator is under development which could produce them at the cost of 1/70 compared with present graphite separator and 5,000 hours verification test with short stack finished. They intend to apply new separator on home use 1 kW unit from now on.
( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun August 29, 2003 )

 
8. Development of Micro FC and Commercialization Plan
  Sanyo Electric will develop a small size DMFC for a note type personal computer and a portable phone and make a product for commercialization by 2005 and then find a market for manufacturers of mobile PDA in domestic and overseas. They have set a special development team in Tokyo Works (Oizumi-cho, Gunma prefecture). The size and the price will be expected the same level as those of lithium ion battery. There is a difference recognized from the strategy of other company at the point that they aim not only to install them on their own portable phones but also to sell them to other manufacturers.
( Nihon Keizai Shimbun August 12, 2003 )

 
9. Hydrogen Production, Storage and Supply Technology
(1) Institute for Materials Research of Tohoku University and others
  Fukuda Metal Foil Powder Co., Ltd. has developed hydrogen separation membrane in cooperation with Akihisa Inoue, Professor, Chief of Institute for Materials Research of Tohoku University, which used cheap alloy including nickel instead of precious metals such as palladium. This is the metal glass that is made by melting alloy and then rapidly cooling, major compositions are nickel, niobium and zirconium. It is a thin membrane in a size of 5 cm width and 30 ` 40ƒÊm thickness. It has been confirmed to be able to keep CO contents less than 1 ppm in hydrogen. The cost is anticipated to reduce to 1/10 of the existing one.
( Nihon Keizai Shimbun August 8, 2003 )
  The group of Associate Professor, Shinichi Orimo, Institute for Materials Research of Tohoku University, has developed a new hydrogen storage material which is able to release hydrogen at low temperature of about 200 Ž . As a storage material of hydrogen, a cluster type material was used which combine hydrogen like tufts around nitrogen and hydrogen can be withdrawn about 3 times in weight base comparison with alloy or graphite materials. In order to withdraw hydrogen in low temperature, valence electron control technique has been applied which change the number of electrons by replacing one out of 10 lithium atoms with magnesium. The study for increasing the efficiency using boron that can be stored more hydrogen will be continued for 5 years from now on. On the other hand, they will develop the hydrogen storage tank for FCV aiming commercialization in cooperation with Toyota Central R & D Lab., Inc.
( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun August 15, 2003 )

(2) The Japan Steel Works, Ltd.
  Hiroshima Plant of The Japan Steel Works, Ltd. starts 5 years development project from 2003 for commercial product of hydrogen compressor used in hydrogen station for FCV. JSW started the development of hydrogen compressor since 2 years ago and has the delivery records of 10 sets prototype, and the target of charging capacity for the commercial products is 250 m3/h which is increased to 5 or 10 times in comparison with prototype capacity. The size of commercial products is 2 m height, .5 m width and 1 m depth, and the design is expected to increase pressure with the movement of piston step by step while hydrogen passes through 4 cylinders.
( Chugoku Shimbun August 16, 2003 )

(3) Iwatani International Corporation
  Iwatani will introduce a trailer car exclusive for FCV transportation and storing, and utilize it for such as publicity activity and demonstration test everywhere all over the nation. The exclusive trailer car, ordered at about 30 million yen, is equipped with hydrogen charging unit which is developed by Iwatani and also fire extinguisher and leaked hydrogen detector, therefore, FCV can be operated without limitation of site.
( Nihon Keizai Shimbun August 16, 2003 )

(4) Quantum Technologies, Inc.
  Quantum Technologies, a group member of GM, plans to enter into Japanese market in 2005 and construct factory for high pressure hydrogen storage tank installed on vehicle in 2008, and establish a center in Asia. According to the president/CEO, the company will establish Japanese corporation and appoint Japanese for a chief executive officer and arrange some engineers for the initial stage. Major customers of Quantum are Opel, TOYOTA MOTOR, SUZUKI MOTOR, Yamaha Motor, HYUNDAI MOTOR, etc other than GM. Quantum, contracted with Sumitomo Corporation in April 2003 for the general agent of Asia/Pacific region, and is promoting market development for Honda Motor Co., Ltd. and NISSAN MOTOR Co., Ltd. through Sumitomo.
( Nihon Keizai Shimbun August 18, 2003, Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun August 20, 2003 )

(5) SAMTECH Corporation
  SAMTECH (Kasiwabara City, Osaka Prefecture) obtained a prospect to realize ultra high pressure hydrogen storage tank of which maximum charging pressure is 70 MPa. Covering the thin wall liner made from aluminum plate or pipe by carbon fiber, the design of vessel is optimized so as to subject inner pressure uniformly. Utilizing the experience of tank in aero space industry, owned by American subsidiary SAMTECH INTERNATIONAL, SAMTECH plans to complete within this year. SAMTECH already delivered 2 sets of 35 MPa tank to NEDO, and the patent right for safety tank integrated with inner valve has been published, which application was made in USA jointly with Kawasaki Precision Machinery Ltd. (Kobe City).
( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun August 19, 2003 )

(6) Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute
  Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute announced on August 21, 2003 that they succeeded to produce hydrogen stably for 6.5 hours with 35 l/h scale by the newly developed technology for hydrogen generation by water thermal decomposition utilizing high temperature heat from nuclear reactor. For the thermal decomposition, IS process was adopted. IS process is the technology to produce hydrogen and oxygen by thermally decomposing hydrogen iodide and sulfuric acid which are formed by reacting water with I (iodine) and S (sulfur) (Bunsen reaction). They also plan to expand the scale to pilot plant test from fiscal year 2005. Combining high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTTR) and hydrogen production system by helium heat exchanger system at the practical stage, high temperature of HTTR will be utilized for hydrogen generation plant.
( Nihon Kogyo Shimbun August 22, 2003, >Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun, The Chemical Daily August 25, 2003 )

(7) Foster Group for Young Researcher
  gFoster Group for Young Researcherh, organized by companies in Toyama prefecture, developed the system to generate hydrogen from methanol solution by electrolysis. Comparing existing steam reforming, though the cost and reforming efficiency are equivalent, hydrogen can be generated at ambient temperature and pressure. The group has been developing micro DMFC and utilized the electrolyte membrane of DMFC for the methanol reforming. The features of the system are to be able to get reformed gas within 1 second at ambient temperature by applying electrolysis voltage of 0.6 V, CO removing system is not required as the membrane transmit only hydrogen, size is small as 1/2 or 1/3 of FC and electric power is required about 1/3 of water electrolysis. They have been developing it, aiming at micro FC for PDA.
( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun August 25, 2003 )

(8) Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd. and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd
  Tokyo Gas and MHI developed jointly the efficient hydrogen generation process with about 80 % (energy base) adopting special membrane to separate and recover the hydrogen, to be applied for town gas reforming process. Thickness of hydrogen permeable membrane is 20 ƒÊm, and hydrogen separating efficiency is improved by catalytic effect of fine palladium. Aiming at application to hydrogen supply system for FCV, Tokyo Gas plans to carry out demonstration test at his hydrogen station in Arakawa-ku, Tokyo, from September, and confirm the performance. Tokyo Gas is operating about 80 natural gas stations in Kanto district, and expecting that the hydrogen production at natural gas station is useful for hydrogen supply infrastructure.
( Nihon Keizai Shimbun August 29, 2003 )

 
10. Safe Hydrogen Utilizaing Technology
  The Japan Research and Development Center for Metal is awarded by NEDO as a representative trustee for Basic Technology Development Program for Safe Hydrogen Utilization Technology. It is the 5 years project starting from 2003 and concentrates especially in research and development of material property in a link of FC related technology development, and 3 steel companies, NIPPON STEEL, Sumitomo Metal Industries and AICHI STEEL and the High Pressure Gas Safety Institute of Japan, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, National Institute of Material Science, Kyushu University, etc participate to this joint development. Major objects are, 1) Confirmation for safety of hydrogen, 2) Improving efficiency and reducing cost on hydrogen utilization technologies and 3) Establishment of basis for practical use of hydrogen. Data analysis of demonstration test is included also to reexamine rule and regulation related to hydrogen storage and transportation and to arrange rule and regulation associated with deregulation. As for the material, though it is generally understood that austenite stainless steel which has durability against hydrogen embitterment is promising, the program will proceed with demonstration test for conventional material under some conditions for the first and, as a results, might head toward new material development.
( Tekko Shimbun August 13, 2003 )

 

-This edition is made up as of August, 2003.-